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Regional press 'faces greatest challenge in history'

The regional press is facing the greatest challenge in its history, MPs were told today.

Former Yorkshire Post editor Tony Watson, now managing director of the Press Association, was giving evidence this morning to the Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry into the future of the industry.

Mr Watson was asked what he thought of media analyst Claire Enders’ prediction that half of the UK’s 1,300 local and regional titles will close in the next five years.

He said that while it was impossible to predict what would happen, there would definitely be a “slimming down” of the sector.

“The regional press is facing the greatest challenge in its history. They are caught in the classic perfect storm,” he told the committee.

“When newspapers do emerge from the recession, they will be smaller businesses which operate at much smaller margins.

“There’s no doubt that titles will continue to close, particularly titles that are second or third within their local markets. Free newspapers are particularly vulnerable.

“There is no doubt that the migration of revenues online is here to stay,” he added.

Ms Enders’ estimate of up to 650 closures or half the regional press was later described as “over-pessimistic” by two leading regional press representatives.

Newspaper Society director David Newell said: “Claire Enders gave a very alarming figure. It would be very hard for us to say that is correct. It is an over-pessimistic figure.

Northcliffe Media managing director Michael Pelosi said: “I think more titles will close and I think publishers will look at different publishing models. They may look at taking daily titles weekly.”

But he added: “I think half the regional press is too pessimistic.”


hackedoff (07/07/2009 13:36:22)
Nothing to do with poor or greedy management then?